Monday, August 30, 1999


HPD worker
to have a very cool
New Year’s

Elaine Burton, wishing to do
something unique for the new
millennium, will be in Antarctica

By Rod Ohira


Las Vegas for the new millennium? Nothing so tame for Elaine Burton.

Burton will be ringing in the New Year in Antarctica, where it will be summer but not exactly warm.

"I expect to be in temperatures 20 below zero," she said of her Dec. 22-Jan. 5 Harvard Natural History Museum cruise to the home of the South Pole. "Frostbite and hypothermia are always a risk when you go there."

Burton, a Honolulu Police Department supervising evidence specialist, wanted to do something unique to usher in the millennium, and do it while she can.

"Antarctica is a place you can still go to, but will be restricted in the future," she said.

She will fly from Miami to Santiago, Chile, and then to Port Stanley in the Falklands. The Explorer, a specially designed vessel with a 15-foot draft, will take her and about 80 other passengers from the Falklands to the Antarctic Peninsula.

Adventure is nothing new to Burton. On previous vacations, she has hiked three times through the jungles of Peru to visit the ancient mountain city of Machu Picchu and other Incan sites, twice checked out Mayan ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula, and spent time with natives in the wilds of Papua New Guinea and Borneo.

There also have been "very civilized trips": South Korea, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Java and Thailand.

Africa tops the list of places Burton still wants to see.

"It's the gift of the 20th century that an ordinary person can see the world," she said. "I've been to places where it used to be impossible to go."

The power of flowers

Sadie Akamine-Wolfe, owner of The Picket Fence in Kailua, believes in flower power. So do Howard and June Nakamoto of Beretania Florist.

Akamine-Wolfe and the Nakamotos will celebrate "Good Neighbor Day" on Wednesday by giving away free roses at their shops, at 107 Hekili St. and 1293 S. Beretania St., respectively.

Akamine-Wolfe plans to hand out 417 dozen roses this year, beginning at 7 a.m., while the Nakamotos will hand out 15,000 roses in bunches of a dozen. "I started doing it in Hawaii five years ago after receiving a fax from a man in Jackson, Miss.," Akamine-Wolfe said. "He felt people were losing their neighborness, so he started giving roses away.

"This is my 25th year in business. For me, it's a way to give back to the community. It brings so much joy to people."

Beretania Florist is celebrating "Good Neighbor Day" for the fourth straight year.

The feedback has been good, says Howard Nakamoto.

"I think it demonstrates the power of giving flowers," he said. "We gave our Federal Express carrier a dozen one year, and he gave one to a lady. She asked how much it cost, and when he told her it was free, she started to cry. She told him she had never received flowers before, even from her husband.

"Another lady gave one to a neighbor she had been fighting with for years. Now they're friends again."

Times of the signs

Valery O'Brien learned to sign so she could communicate with her deaf daughter.

But after 15 years, she's convinced it is one of the hardest languages to learn.

"There are 28 alphabets and thousands of different characters for different things," O'Brien said. "There are also tenses and signs for plural.

"For me, it's not easy and I'm still learning."

Like foreign languages, there are also many forms of signing.

"There's no uniform sign language around the world," said O'Brien, who recently received a 1999 National Association of the Deaf "Golden Hand Award" for her volunteer work with the Hawaii Services on Deafness board.

"In the United States alone, there are over 15 different types of sign language. The most common in Hawaii is American Sign Language."

Kathryn "Katie" O'Brien, Valery's youngest child, uses ASL to communicate with her family. Valery, her husband Scott and their 18-year-old twin daughters, Kelly and Megan, sometimes use sign language to communicate with each other.

"It beats yelling across the room," said Valery O'Brien, who is marketing director for Victoria Ward Centers.

Katie O'Brien played this year for a championship Special Olympics soccer team, coached by Circuit Judge Marie Milks.

"If you can't hear, you can't respond, and she was the only deaf player," Valery O'Brien said.

"So every child on the team learned sign language."

Do you have a people story for Rod Ohira? Please call 525-8640.

Press release photo
Howard and June Nakamoto of Beretania Florist plan to give away 15,000 roses in bunches of a dozen on "Good Neighbor Day," Wednesday.

Valery O'Brien learned to sign in order to better communicate with her daughter Katie, and recently received the "Golden Hand Award" from the National Association of the Deaf for her volunteer work with the board of Hawaii Services on Deafness.

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